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    Thirdly
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Distant Calls - 1. Chapter 1- Together

Warning: Insinuation and mentioning of violence. Indirect thoughts of suicide?

::

I was so thirsty that it actually hurt to swallow. My lips hurt if I moved them any which way. So much sand had blown into my eyes that they were the driest they've ever been. I was itchy and bruised from head to toe. Every step reminded me of the throbbing in my thighs and the radiating pain down my broken arm. But, my physical pain was still eclipsed by the deep, dark void I felt inside me. Nevis. No matter how far I traveled, my Nevis existed somewhere just beyond my reach.

Ra, I begged as I glanced up at the scorching sun. Please allow me to see him again. If not in this life, then the next...

I felt my stomach drop as I collapsed onto the sand beneath my feet.

Something inside me knew that I wouldn't be able to get back up that time.

::

I gasped loudly as my body startled awake. My hand immediately clutched at my shirt over my pounding heart. Though it wasn't the first time I had dreamt of that bereft young man in the desert, I felt rattled by the hopelessness that accompanied it.

Desperate to shake off the residual feelings, I sped to the restroom. For a brief moment, my own reflection looked foreign to me. I don't know what I expected to see instead of a pale, green-eyed blond kid; a russet-hued Egyptian? My eyes furrowed as they caught sight of the dark spots along my arms. If I had anything in common with the dream guy, it was the bruises. Looked like it would be another long-sleeved day.

Momo, I thought to myself. I'm Momoiro Takiwa; not some Egyptian dude.

I finally began to feel like myself again after a few deep breaths, a splash of water, and a good brushing of teeth. The man in my dream might have lost hope, but I was still clinging to mine. And I began by hoping that my dad was already awake.

Genbu Takiwa might carry my grandpa's name, but he was nothing like him. When my mother was alive, he had even insulted her for having the gall to name me Momoiro just because my baby head reminded her of a peach. A slight pang formed in my chest at the thought of grandpa Genbu.

The kind old man cared for me from when I was three until I was six years old before my father found me and stole me back. I missed him so much, but I had no way of finding him again. We were a whole continent away.

I found my father passed out on the couch. Four empty beer bottles were on the floor and a half-empty bottle of higher grade liquor was wedged in between the cushions. If I woke him up, I'd end up going to school with even more bruises. That meant that I had to forge his signature yet again before turning in my field trip form to my teacher. Thank goodness they didn't require notarizations like my middle school did.

I heard him give a grunt as he stirred awake on my way out the door. I quickly shut it behind me and rushed out to the bus stop without even locking it. The one time I had stopped to lock the door, I was beaten up so badly that I had to call out sick.

When I was finally seated on the bus, I let out the breath of air I had been holding. Even if my father did blame me for waking him up, it was at least a Friday. I could enjoy the field trip and most of the day before having to deal with him during the weekend.

"Ready for competition?"

The sing-song voice announced the arrival of my best friend, Zoey. Had the bus reached her stop already? The ravenette didn't hesitate to sit beside me. I ushered up a small smile for her in greeting.

"As ready as I'll ever be," I murmured in response. Many of our peers felt nervous to be before an audience. The audience didn't bother me as much as the heat from the stage lights. Any kind of heat from above reminded me of the Desert-Dream-Dude, and it would never fail to ruin my mood.

"So, what was the Triple-D doing this time?" Zoey inquired.

The Desert-Dream-Dude surely had a name, but the majority of my dreams involved him being by himself. No one called out to him and he never called himself by his own name...so, we simply referred to him as the Triple-D. My dreams showed signs that the desert man had a male lover, since Nevis was the name of the person that he always thought about. The idea that Triple-D was gay was downright fascinating to my bestie.

A shudder rolled down my spine as I recalled the utter defeat that had overtaken Triple-D in my dream. "He was alone in the desert again. This time, however, it felt like he completely gave up on living..."

Zoey's expression was sad, as if we were talking about a relative instead of a fictitious man that didn't exist. "He just gave up? Damn, that's depressing. I'd have hoped he finally found his guy...that Nevis of his. I'm dying to know what he might have looked like. I mean, he had to have been a hottie for Triple-D to have been so taken with him."

I gave her a shrug. "As much as he talked and thought about him, Nevis never showed up in any of my dreams," I reaffirmed.

The bus made its final stop before heading straight to school. Though I didn't consciously mean to, my gaze was immediately drawn to the tallest of the group that began to board the bus. He was a fellow Junior who had recently moved into the area with his single mom.

Leo's shoulder-length, dark hair was tied back into a low ponytail. But, it was his lovely amber eyes that stood out in contrast. With so many gazes fixated on the guy, I wondered how he didn't light up on fire every morning. But, if he noticed all the staring, he never so much as blushed.

"Ooh, on the subject of hotties," Zoey whispered to me, wafting her face with a hand, as he walked past us to sit near the back of the bus. "It should be illegal for such a deep, sexy voice to come out of someone who already looks like a damn male model."

I couldn't help the snicker that escaped me. "Then it would be perfectly legal for him to look like a hot mess?" I questioned.

"Yes, exactly," Zoey replied without any hesitation.

"Hot mess or not, we need his voice if we're going to win this year."

"As if there's any question about it! This is our year." Zoey boasted. "All the other high school choirs need to watch out."

::::

My hand barely shook when I handed the choir instructor my form. Though I had to forge my father's signature countless times over the years, I never felt any less guilty for it. Mrs. Matthews seemed like she was on edge as she gathered the last few permission slips. Forged parent signatures seemed to be the last thing on her mind.

Choir competition this year was held at another high school that was around twenty minutes away by bus. Last year we didn't even place. Mrs. Matthews claimed that it was because the judges felt sympathy for the small, new choir from a high school that had just been built that year. She was quite competitive.

"Alright, on the bus, I want all the girls seated on the left and the boys on the right. We're going to do a few warm-ups on the way there, so don't forget to bring the small water bottles with you," Mrs. Matthews instructed.

"I thought we weren't allowed to eat or drink anything on the bus," one of the students countered.

"I have a bag with me to recycle the bottles, the bus driver isn't going to say a darn thing," she responded.

We boarded the bus in relative silence. Leo didn't hesitate to sit next to me, and the butterflies in my stomach immediately erupted in a flutter. I clutched my music folder to my chest and tried not to stare at him for too long. He gave me a small smile in greeting and my eyes were drawn to his dimples.

Leo must have been adorable as a baby.

I frowned and shook my head to clear away such silly thoughts.

"Nervous to compete?"

I glanced back up at him. "A bit," I fibbed. The nervousness I felt was due to his proximity, not the competition. "Is this your first time?"

"No, I competed in my old high school," Leo responded. "But, since I've only been a part of this group for a few months, I don't want to let everyone down."

"Last year we didn't even place," I replied. "Believe me, the bar for us is really low. You'll be fine."

The smile he gave me that time wasn't the usual, friendly smile. It was the same smile of budding excitement that was on Zoey's face when we first became friends; a smile of camaraderie. A real smile.

"Thanks, I needed that," the amber-eyed youth admitted.

For a moment, I became lost in the hue of his eyes. They reminded me of autumnal leaves as they changed color. I briefly wondered if anyone else in his family had the same eye color.

I didn't have the chance to ask. Mrs. Matthews began coaxing us into warm-ups. While Leo's speaking voice was deep, his singing voice was an even lower rumble that sent chills up my spine. I was stricken with the desire to hear his singing voice alone, with no distractions or other people..I mean, other voices.. around.

Just as the year before, our group was ushered from one room to another, each with judges testing us on different levels. We usually made it to the top ten. Unlike in other school districts, recognition was only given to the top three. By the time we were prepped to go on stage, I felt the excitement kick in. This was the second to last competition that Zoey and I would participate in before graduation.

Every year, the group was slightly different. Our Seniors would graduate and newcomers were introduced. But, the one constant was Zoey being there with me. After a few final warm-ups, I caught Leo's gaze and gave him two thumbs up. From his grin and shake of his head I wondered if he thought me silly. Either way, the distraction would be enough for him to keep it together when we stepped out on stage.

As usual, the lights were so bright and hot that they reminded me of the midday sun. I lifted my hand to shield my eyes as I glanced up, and for a moment, I saw the deep russet hue of Triple-D'S skin tone instead of my own. Pushing past the shudder of feeling haunted, I took my assigned place on stage.

My stomach quivered only a little bit as everyone filed in. But, when began to direct us, the rest was partial muscle memory and the thrill of singing with the group. Our voices filled up the stage. During my pauses, I listened for the nearby Zoey and Leo in the back. In spite of the nerves, I felt we did rather well.

::::::

About an hour later, I came to find out that we had done exceptionally well. Our group walked out of that high school with the first prize trophy. The chatter on the way back was so animated that Mrs. Matthews didn't bother to try to keep the noise level down. A part of me felt bad for the bus driver.

We arrived back at school with three hours to spare. When we entered the music room, Mrs. Matthews had a surprise waiting for us. We had boxed lunches with chips, several dips, drinks, and candy bars. She walked over to her CD player and put on party music for us. The room was between the auditorium and gym, so we could get away with being a little loud.

"I'm going to have my lunch in the faculty room," Mrs. Matthews announced. "You have a half-hour to yourselves. Don't make me regret it when I get back. And, West Hamilton Chorus, well done!"

"Thank you, Mrs. Matthews!" We all responded, some in unison, and others a little late. But, the sentiment was all the same.

Most of us finished up eating our lunch in five minutes or less. At some point, someone lowered the music down a bit and half of the group began to play spin-the-bottle. One would think that, by high school, they'd have given up such a childish kissing game. But, who was I to judge?

Zoey roped me into sitting down in that circle. Leo was also seated there, beside his friend, a classmate named Rick. I observed as the girls squealed in delight whenever one of them managed to receive a kiss from the more attractive boys. The bold teens kissed on the lips, but the majority opted for a kiss on the cheek, especially if it was someone of the same gender. The teasing lasted only until it was the next person's turn to spin.

Before I knew it, it was Leo's turn to spin. The room became quiet and tense. I imagined that there wasn't a girl in the room who wouldn't mind receiving a kiss from Leo, even if only on the cheek. The tension was from the boys who would feel embarrassed to receive a kiss from their rival. As if to add to the suspension, Leo spun the bottle so hard that it spun for nearly twenty full seconds before slowing to a stop right in front of me.

My stomach immediately dropped as if I were on a roller coaster.

Zoey squealed so hard she nearly burst my eardrum.

I gulped hard as I sensed Leo move to crouch in front of me. I felt my heart racing and my face heating up as I chanced a quick glance at his face. Leo was staring at me so intently that my blush darkened and I avoided his gaze.

"We don't have to do this if you don't want to," came Leo's soft whisper.

That got my attention. I locked my gaze with those amber eyes. Did that mean that he didn't want to? Why wouldn't he? I was cuter than a quarter of the girls at school! A spark of indignant anger flashed through me.

"What, am I somehow not kissable just cause I'm a guy?" I countered with a slight glare.

His chuckle startled me out of that train of thought. "Quite the contrary," Leo clarified. "I consider it quite the honor. So much so that I hope you forgive me for being so bold…"

As his lips brushed mine, I realized that my first real kiss was being witnessed by a whole group of people. Then, I registered the warmth within that contact. The sensation was quite nice. When my hand reached up to gently touch the side of his face, a swarm of images filled my head.

No, it wasn't porn. Though, as a healthy teenager, that would have been perfectly normal. Not to mention that Leo would probably feature prominently in them-

The point was that they were more like scenes or memories...memories that weren't mine.

I saw visions of an ancient Egyptian couple in different stages of their relationship. Casual touches. Clothes being discarded...

Nevis!

They obviously weren't my memories. Or, were they?

A round of cat-calling and applause startled us both apart. Leo's lips were slightly parted and he looked about as dumbstruck as I felt. My face felt so warm that I had no doubt I was as red as a ripe tomato by then.

Leo cleared his throat and stood up, holding out a hand for to help me up. "Would you excuse us for a moment?" He asked the group around us. "Momo and I have something we must discuss."

The cat-calling and cheering intensified when I took hold of his hand and the two of us left the music room to talk. Leo didn't stop at the hallway, he walked all the way outside, not letting go of my hand. His hand was nice and dry. Mine was already beginning to sweat.

But, when we turned the corner of the building, my sweaty hands were the last thing on my mind because Leo's warm hands were cupping the sides of my face. His amber eyes were studying my face so intently that I wondered if he was trying to commit my facial features to memory.

"Did…" I began at the same time as Leo, but then stopped to allow him to talk.

"Did you feel something...strange back there when we kissed?" He asked hesitantly "Like someone else's life?"

"Y-yeah..." My green eyes opened so wide that my stretched eyelids actually hurt. "You were seeing weird not-memories, too?" I questioned. "Who did you see? Were they Egyptian-looking?"

"Yes, I mean I've seen one of them before in my dreams…" He began.

"Me too! Which one? The short, tattered one?"

"Tattered?" He questioned.

"I don't know his name because the only name he ever thought of was of a guy named Nevis-" I explained, but he cut me off.

"The guy I always saw was named Nevis!" Leo declared. "He kept calling himself an idiot…'Nevis, you fool!' He'd say." The taller teen explained as he began to pace. "He was overcome with remorse for not having protected a prince...Prince Raemka."

Raemka!

I shook my head at the strange echo in my head. The name 'Raemka' coming out of Leo's mouth gave me both an eerie and heart-throbbing feeling. All the while, my stomach felt sick. The wonderful lunch I had just savored seemed to want to jump ship.

"I'm not feeling so good right now," I confessed.

Leo glanced up at the sky. "It's getting too hot out here," he deduced. "Let's get you back inside."

As the taller teen rushed me indoors, I felt a sense of deja-vu, as if he had escorted me indoors before. Only, this was surely the first time Leo had done so much for me. I had just barely started talking to him that very day!

The colder air of the hallway did feel better than the heat from outside, but when Leo took hold of my hand again, the feeling all but vanished. As I glanced back at him, for a brief moment, I saw someone else instead...his skin was a warm mocha, and his eyes were brown. Could that be Nevis? I frowned as I concentrated on his moving lips. What was Leo saying?

"I'm sorry, what was that?" I asked aloud.

"I said I'm going to get you some water with ice. We just have to ask one of the cafeteria ladies," Leo insisted.

"Oh...thank you."

A cold cup of water later, I was still feeling a residual headache. But, I didn't know if it was because of the weird things we were experiencing or just stress. Leo and I were the only students in the cafeteria at 2pm, so the two of us sat down on a round table beneath an umbrella outside. Despite my condition, I noted that Leo kept touching my hand every few minutes. Each touch was like a surge of aspirin that soothed the pounding in my head.

I wondered if he felt the same.

"Thank you for staying with me," I said. "I think we can head back now. I imagine Mrs. Matthews must wonder what happened to us."

"I'm sure Rick and the others are covering for us," Leo responded. "If not, we'll just tell the truth. You were feeling ill and I wanted to help."

I gave him a small smile. "So, I guess it really is only me feeling these...what? Side-effects?" I asked.

"Not exactly," Leo replied as he threaded his fingers through mine. "I think I'm feeling different 'side-effects.' Only holding your hand like this calms me down. I swear I'm not usually this touchy-feely…"

"What are we going to do when we have to go home?"

"Well, thank goodness we ride the same bus back. I'm sure your friend Zoey won't mind that I take her seat temporarily if we explain it to her," Leo suggested. "Unless you don't want her to know."

"Oh, I don't keep anything from Zoey," I responded. "But, I imagine her fanaticism of my dreams will prompt her to ask you like a billion questions about Nevis."

"It's so weird hearing you say his name out loud," Leo admitted. "I only ever told my mother about the dreams I had. Guess, I'm going to have to talk to Rick about it now. You're making me look like a bad bestie here by having told Zoey."

I shook my head. "Zoey is more than just my best friend, she's like family. I don't have a mother to tell anything to and my dad...let's just say he's not the type of guy to tell these things to, especially not if it has anything to do with a gay couple."

"I swore those two only existed in my dreams," the brunet insisted. "I didn't think they were real people. Now, I seriously doubt that they weren't real. Could it have really been our past lives?"

I lifted our hands and pressed the back of Leo's against my temple. A shiver of coolness and calm seemed to radiate from the touch. It was both soothing and pleasant.

"If they weren't, I don't think this skin-to-skin contact would feel as good as it does," I admitted. If anyone were to have told me yeserday that I'd not only feel comfort in shamelessly holding onto Leo's hand, but that I'd be the one initiating the touch, I'd have never beleived them. "Your hand's better than an ice pack right now."

"I'm kind of afraid of what will happen when we have to go to our separate homes," Leo divulged. "Are you really going to be ok? Should you just sleep over?"

"You'd really let me sleep over?" I questioned hesitantly.

"Like I said, my mom knows...she'd completely understand."

"She sounds like an awesome mom. But, I think I'll be fine. Thanks for the offer, though."

"Then, let's head back to the music room." He proposed. "Now's as good a time as ever to test out how you feel without any touching at all."

We both stood up, and to my surprise, he took hold of my hand once again. The touch was warm that time, urging another blush to rise to my face. "I thought we were going to try to stop touching for a while," I mused aloud.

"Well, we're not in the room just yet," Leo responded sheepishly. "I'll brave it once we walk through the door. But, for now, this last touch is because I'm the one that need it."

He still hadn't told me what he felt whenever we weren't touching. But, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. After all, my headache was all but completely gone. Holding hands for a little longer was beneficial to me, as well.

A collective breath was drawn in from us both when we stood before the door of the music room. Our hands subconsciously tightened in our grasp. The moment reminded me of the first day of kindergarten. I hadn't been the only child clinging to my relative.

"Words aren't the only way we talk to one another," my grandpa had explained. "But fear gets in the way of everything. You have to push past it before you can make a worthwhile connection."

"There's nothing wrong with being afraid. But, we have to push past it if we want to do anything worthwhile," I told Leo despite not being able to push past my own fears. Grandpa Genbu hadn't been kidding. Fear was downright debilitating to me. It was a constant presence in my life.

A frown formed on Leo's face. "You're right," he conceded, slowly letting go of my hand. We both visibly tensed as we fought the urge to reach out to each other again. How the hell were we going to get past this?

"We'll figure this out," the older teen insisted, though his tone wasn't very convincing. "We'll get past the fear; together."

Copyright © 2021 Thirdly, Toma; All Rights Reserved.
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Ooooooh past life? Love it. I might have squealed just a bit when i saw the notification for a new story😂

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Thirdly

Posted (edited)

40 minutes ago, Wesley8890 said:

Ooooooh past life? Love it. I might have squealed just a bit when i saw the notification for a new story😂

Despite the past life part of it, this one isn't fantasy (Edit: Actually, I take it back, there is still one more 'fantasy' like aspect in there, their connection). It's also very short. Six parts. 

Edited by Thirdly
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When I read the first couple of paragraphs I thought I might not like this story but I read on. Then it drew me in, it promises to be a love story with a difference and had me coming out in goose-bumps. By the end of the chapter I'd been pulled in completely and can't wait for the next instalment. Skilful and beautiful writing I take my hat off to you. :worship:

Edited by Mancunian
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Thirdly

Posted (edited)

12 hours ago, Mancunian said:

When I read the first couple of paragraphs I thought I might not like this story but I read on. Then it drew me in, it promises to be a love story with a difference and had me coming out in goose-bumps. By the end of the chapter I'd been pulled in completely and can't wait for the next instalment. Skilful and beautiful writing I take my hat off to you. :worship:

If this is your introduction to my writing style, humor and heart is what I like to think I’m  mostly about. This one just has more angst than usual. However all my endings are sentimentally happy? 

Edited by Thirdly
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I was a little sceptical when I began reading, but your character and situation portrayal drew me in.

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17 hours ago, Mawgrim said:

I was a little sceptical when I began reading, but your character and situation portrayal drew me in.

I’m glad my characters are well received.

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An interesting start, the beginning is hitting all the right notes...so to speak!!!

rise singing GIF by NBC

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22 hours ago, drsawzall said:

An interesting start, the beginning is hitting all the right notes...so to speak!!!

rise singing GIF by NBC

Glad you’ve been enjoying it so far.

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2 hours ago, wenmale64 said:

Off to an interesting start. I'm in for the run.

I think you’ve already reached the end by now. 🤣

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